Literacy is freedom, and everyone has something significant to say.
Jimmy Santiago Baca
At a recent keynote address, Jimmy Santiago Baca challenged me (and everyone else in the audience) to create classrooms that are places where we can speak truth, rather than places of judgment. His moving keynote has become an often-used filter as I consider my beliefs about teaching.
It seems like our world has less grace and more judgment. If we want to create classrooms where children can speak truth, then we must have compassion. As demands for time increase and stress weighs heavily, it can be easy for me to forget compassion. When I went through foster care licensing, a certain phrase was repeated often—humans must learn to care. Compassion is not something we are born with, it is something we learn.
If compassion is something we learn, then it can also be something we forget. Perhaps this is why Jimmy Santiago Baca’s words settled into a forever-space in my mind. “Everything goes dark without teachers,” he proclaimed. Sometimes I wonder if the reality is that everything goes dark without teachers and compassion.
In The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living Lighter, Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst make a case for less information. They open one chapter with, “From time to time, our heads begin to spin with so many thoughts and so much new information that we feel overwhelmed and stressed—we can’t even sleep. That’s when we know it’s time to take a ‘time-out’ from our minds.”
Do we need to take a time-out from our minds to keep our compassion? In a world where the realities are heavy, it is natural to become overwhelmed. If we turn to Google for a solution, then the stress mounts from the overload of information. What if instead, we take a time-out in order to hold onto soft compassion? After all, everything goes dark without teachers and compassion.
This week we look at how to give better feedback to students and teachers. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills develop a scaffold with an index card to help student partners move from agreeable talk to suggestions for revising writing.
Carly Ullmer assesses how she can give consistent and meaningful feedback to every one of her many middle school students at least once a week.
Stacey Shubitz shares some of her favorite tips for giving feedback that moves writers.
Our new online course from Ruth Ayres, Better Student Feedback, will help teachers and coaches think through how to talk with students about progress and goals, as well as what to do with their responses. The course fee of $39 includes two months of access to the entire Choice Literacy library of 4000 articles and videos. If you have a current paid subscription to Choice Literacy, there is no charge for the course. Click here for details.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Jennifer Allen shares a project student writers complete with support from a local college to make writing public and widen the net for feedback.
Mark Levine wonders why his most skilled readers take the most time to get through texts. So he gets feedback from them, and uses their fascinating answers to assist struggling students.
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres confers with second grader Reagan about writing she is revising for publication about a class trip to the zoo that included her grandmother. Ruth introduces her to the concept of frames in illustrations, using an example from a picture book.
In an encore video, partner teams in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class share their drafts and ask for specific feedback on their opinion writing pieces.
Cathy Mere explores the difference between feedback and reflection, and why it’s important to have a balance when coaching teachers.
Matt Renwick considers what type of feedback from school leaders can be most helpful to teachers.
Clare Landrigan is assessing a student as a demonstration in front of 15 teachers. She is stunned by student feedback to a task, and reflects on the power schools and teachers have in helping children develop their reading identities.
We’ve added feedback videos to our Remote Coaching page.
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.
That’s all for this week!